Brucellosis of the Spine

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THE SPINAL FORM of brucellosis is still a disabling disease in many countries outside North America and northern and central Europe. Fifteen consecutive cases of spinal brucellosis diagnosed and treated over a 20-year period were reviewed retrospectively. Six patients were farmers, while 10 patients had a history of ingestion of unpasteurized milk or other dairy products. A high index of suspicion is necessary for the diagnosis, since there are no pathognomonic signs or symptoms. Radiological assessment of the disease was reviewed and highlights in the differential diagnoses were stressed. The diagnosis was based on actual culture of Brucella bacilli in seven patients. The principal treatment of brucellosis of the spine is conservative, namely, immobilization and antimicrobial therapy. We have found both a combination of ofloxacin and rifampin and ofloxacin monotherapy efficient as the early regimens used in this series. Three patients had to undergo surgery, since a diagnosis could not be made in any other way.

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